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Orion was launched in 2003. Her streamlined ice-strengthened hull and state-of-the-art stabilizers were specifically designed for expedition cruises through the Southern Ocean to Antarctica.

Ship facilities and crew

All six categories of accommodations in 26 staterooms and 27 suites include ocean views, queen or twin bed options, fully equipped marble bathrooms, flat screen TVs, DVD/CD players, Internet connections and mini-refrigerators.

Orion has 75 experienced crew members. Cruise fares include accommodations, all meals in a single sitting in the dining room or outdoor café, guest speakers and/or expedition leaders, and selected landings and on-shore excursions.

18-Night Antarctica and Southern Ocean expeditions

Departing from Hobart and Bluff, New Zealand, Orion's expeditions to the Southern Ocean and Antarctica give passengers the opportunity to learn about the Australian Antarctic explorer, Douglas Mawson.

Erected for his 1911 to 1913 expedition, Sir Douglas Mawson's historic huts, at 67° 0' South and Cape Denison, are one of six surviving complexes from the 'Heroic Era' of Antarctic exploration. Besides the historic buildings, passengers see remnants of clothing, food, crates, sleds, ropes and kerosene tins.

Macquarie Island and Commonwealth Bay

Zodiacs bring Orion passengers to UNESCO World Heritage-listed Macquarie Island. With 20 hours of daylight, they view wildlife, including killer whales, King Penguins, Elephant Seals, Giant Skuas, King Shags and White Headed Petrels. Rusting machinery remains from the whaling era.

Orion cruises through Commonwealth Bay, the location of the massive Mertz and Ninnis glaciers. Passengers view grounded icebergs and the abandoned French expedition base at Port Martin.

At Dumont D'Urville, they can photograph Adelie and Emperor penguins. Zodiacs bring passengers to the sub-Antarctic islands of Auckland and Snares, near New Zealand, to observe seals, sea lions, penguins and albatross.

Expedition leaders for shore excursions

Don and Margie McIntyre, who've spent more time at Cape Denison than any other living persons, will lead the expedition's shore excursions. In 1995, they spent a year living alone at Cape Denison, in Commonwealth Bay, the windiest spot in the world. Their home was a 2.4 x 3.6 meter-box, chained to rocks, 400 meters from Sir Douglas Mawson's historic 1911 Aurora Expedition huts.

Blizzards trapped them trapped in their dwelling for up to 20 days. An award-winning documentary and a best selling book, Two Below Zero, documented their efforts to survive the self imposed ordeal.

Don and Margie McIntyre

Don and Margie are AAP Mawson Huts Foundation Ambassadors, along with Sir Edmund Hillary, Tim Bowden and Sir Peter Durham. In 1996, Margie was recognized as one of Australia's 12 most outstanding women. Don and Margie McIntyre received the Australian Geographical Society's highest honor, a gold medal. They were the youngest people to be named Adventurers of the Year.

Between 1993 and 2000, the McIntyres organized and participated in nine sailing expeditions in their own expedition yachts. They worked on Russian Antarctic tourist cruise ships as lecturers, field guides, boat-drivers and joint expedition leaders. After buying a 36-metre 500 tonne helicopter-equipped ice ship, Sir Hubert Wilkins, in Finland in 2000, they spent three years sailing half-way around the world. Don and Margie McIntyre then made four Antarctic expeditions to support education, research and adventure.